Thursday, May 6, 2010

"Croakey", the Crikey Health Blog

The article I wrote for "Croakey", concerning Australia's vexed issue of mandatory helmet laws, was published today. Predictably, a small flurry of comments has raised implausible claims of protection afforded by helmets - the following is a classic!:

"...I could take you to ED and you could see the cyclists brought in by ambulance after a truck or a car has run over someone’s head."

...a bicycle helmet would protect me from a truck running over my head? No kidding!!!!

Unquestioning loyalty to bicycle helmets has spawned a general acceptance of fatuous helmet-protecting dogma. Notwithstanding this craven desire to believe all the helmet-hype, scientific evidence shows that contrary to popular opinion, bicycle helmets do not provide this mantle of protection.

The belief in helmets has been held together by a belief in their superior protective capabilities, coupled with the 'danger-mongering' of cycling. Inexplicably we have completely lost any critical powers to be able disseminate helmet information for what it actually is - helmet promotion.

But cycling is not dangerous:

- our 'fattest-nation' status is
- our catastrophic committment to the oil industry is
- our inertia in the face of climate change is

So what can we do?

Well for starters...lets' get physical (onto our bikes) & let's get critical (decide for ourselves whether to helmet or not)!!

...also visit "Croakey" and volunteer your thoughts...!!


Quick update with Roads & Traffic Authority (RTA) and my exemption application:

* application received by the Centre for Road Safety yesterday (despatched March 10 2010)
* application currently being processed
* application process cannot be discussed whilst being processed
* application will be processed within a month (June 5 2010, 3 months after intitial despatch)

...and just as a little afterthought, how does one distinguish between a "Department", a "Unit" and a "Centre"? I'm curious - it seems to be an important distinction, and I have been the recipient of much 'authoritative disapproval' asking for the incorrect "whatever"!


  1. I also saw that ridiculous comment from the 'trained ICU nurse'....


    In my experience, people who have had their heads ridden over by a truck don't require a hospital...


    Dr Paul Martin
    Brisbane, Australia

  2. Did you see the follow up:

  3. Thanks for that, Edward, I hadn't seen it! Really heartening! - in fact, dare I say it, things are really starting to shift!

  4. Sue, Thanks for taking up the baton on this issue.Unfortunately, I suspect it's a bit like the abortion debate. A big 'freeze out' when the 2 sides get together.(as Robert M Pirsig would say)Perhaps the best shot would be compulsory for under 15 year olds and those who choose to ride 22 speed bikes in the traffic.Bit of a cop out, I know, but a win win for starters.cheers, Ian Menzies (Melbourne)

  5. Thanks, Ian!

    - interestingly, a politician in Sweden has put forward a proposal to their Parliament to repeal their existing mandatory helmet laws for under 15s - unsurprisingly, their MHL had a catastrophic effect on the rates of children cycling